Neither have I. Lucky you if you have.
Many businesses in Monaco think they can bribe us scribblers at NEWS.MC to write good things about them. We might be tempted to do this if there was a chance of getting anything in return, but there is a company policy in place that we must adhere to, a rule forbidding the acceptance of freebies in exchange for good reviews.
There is a very solid reason to have this rule. We do not want to mislead our readers, who now, numbering in their thousands, are the bedrock on which our corporate success is based. The last sentence suggested by the editor, by the way.
It could get completely out of hand if we did not have this policy. Edmiston might offer a week’s charter along the Italian Riviera if we were to just mention the Monaco-based yachting company. Assuming places were limited, we would have to choose among us, and someone would have to stay behind to man, or woman, the newsroom, causing yet more problems.
Or, Pastor real estate might offer an apartment in the Marreterra development. OK, that’s a little far-fetched.
But I do recall standing in for the editor at a meeting at Cova to discuss giving some ‘free’ publicity to Twiga – same ownership – at which it was suggested that NEWS.MC could write nice things about the refurbished nightclub in return for which myself and one other could benefit from a lovely meal. That would be the din-din that would provide the basis for a glowing report. No way, Jose, I’d rather eat at home.
The hotels sends us press releases about changes to their menus!
The list is almost endless.
The only beneficiaries of this ecosystem are PR agencies that are paid a fortune to persuade journalists to write good things in exchange for freebies.
Of course, there are grey areas. There is nothing wrong with hard-working and thirsty journos being offered life-saving buckets of Veuve Clicquot and five-star picky food at press conferences. Indeed, this is standard procedure, except for the Government, even to the point at which very tasty titbits are sometimes offered at an early morning meeting but woe betide anyone who actually stickies their fingers, crossing an unspoken line of unacceptability. Just too early, and too desperate. Even journalists have their standards.
Working breakfasts offered by the Monaco Economic Board are a minefield, but it’s a kindly and positive gesture to be able to sit at a table laden with uneaten croissants and jugs of undrunk orange juice, although sometimes it’s not so easy to see the speakers over the mounds of food.
However, when Monte-Carlo Beer offered the newsroom a crate of beer following a very positive and heartfelt mention of the local brew (Organic), the Mother of the Monte-Carlo chapel of the National Union of Journalists said it would be OK to accept if certain conditions were met. The beer would have had to be brewed in keeping with the NUJ ’s policies on inclusion and transgenderism.
An entire crate of Monte-Carlo Beer Organic Brew was sent to us but never arrived.
We have all been so busy writing articles and applying for accreditation to the Monaco E-Prix that several weeks passed before anyone noticed.
Eventually, now very thirsty for the special taste of Monte-Carlo Beer (Organic Brew) we spoke to the concierge in our old office building who told us he’d given the crate to our neighbour for safekeeping.
Knowing he’s a teetotaller we weren’t too fazed.
“OK, I’m very sorry,” he admitted. “The beer was great. The next round’s on me.”
IMAGE: Veuve Clicquot